Inspired by this question, if the holder of an object tries to place an object in the pocket of the shadow clothes (those created by the spell shadow conjuration), the object automatically succeeds on its saving throw to disbelieve, and the clothes are only 20% likely to affect the object. So 80% of the time, the DM determines what happens, but I suspect that means objects fall through the shadowy pockets as a wearer tries to place things in them.

Objects (excepting magic items) only sometimes receive saving throw rolls. Unattended objects get no saving throws, but attended objects often "save as the character [holding them] (that is, using the character’s saving throw bonus)."

According to the SRD, a creature can "voluntarily forego a saving throw and willingly accept a spell’s result."

So, can a character holding an object forgo the object's saving throw, so as to allow them to place things in their own (shadow) pockets?

  • \$\begingroup\$ You're welcome. I deleted my answer because I totally missed the line Objects automatically succeed on their Will saves against this spell even after reading the spell several times, and that line totally took the wind from my answer, putting me back to the Under Consideration stage of answering this question. :-) (And I edited the question because it conflated make a saving throw with succeed on a saving throw, which I think is what threw me off! Darn you! (Also see this answer's Pedantry Alert.)) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 8, 2017 at 21:34

3 Answers 3


The rules state:

Saving Throws: Nonmagical, unattended items never make saving throws. They are considered to have failed their saving throws, so they always are affected by spells. An item attended by a character (being grasped, touched, or worn) makes saving throws as the character (that is, using the character’s saving throw bonus).

Magic items always get saving throws. A magic item’s Fortitude, Reflex, and Will save bonuses are equal to 2 + one-half its caster level. An attended magic item either makes saving throws as its owner or uses its own saving throw bonus, whichever is better.

and in addition:

Voluntarily Giving up a Saving Throw: A creature can voluntarily forego a saving throw and willingly accept a spell’s result. Even a character with a special resistance to magic can suppress this quality.

but also:


Usually a harmful spell allows a target to make a saving throw to avoid some or all of the effect. The Saving Throw entry in a spell description defines which type of saving throw the spell allows and describes how saving throws against the spell work.

So, lets break this down. In terms of attended objects, we have two cases. The first is the case where the item is saving 'as the creature' and the second is the case where the item is saving as itself.

Now, the usual method of voluntarily giving up a saving throw clearly doesn't apply in a prima facie manner, as objects are not (with a few exceptions) creatures. However, in the case wherein an item is saving as its attendant, it seems this rule might end up applying. The rules indicate that 'makes saving throws as the character' means the same thing as 'makes saving throws using the character's saving throw bonus', but that still isn't entirely clear.

Since the plain readings of these phrases do not align in meaning, the GM must determine whether anyone using the character's saving throw bonus to make a save is 'saving as the character' (and thus can voluntarily fail the save as if it were a creature, make use of consumable bonus effects such as is granted by resistance or re-roll granting effects such as is granted by the Charmed Life feat) or whether, instead, anyone 'saving as the character' merely uses that character's saving throw bonus without accounting for any other effects or features (and thus all abilities allowing another creature to use your save(s) would disallow the use of such abilities on the roll).

Now, were this the only consideration, an attended item using the attendant's saving throw could choose to forgo its saves voluntarily, if it so wished, provided one of two possible interpretations of an ambiguous passage is taken to be the case (in the other interpretation they would not be able to do this). Magic items using their own saves, were this the only consideration, would be unable to forgo the throw, since they are not creatures, but it is important to note that the phrase 'whichever is better' does not mean 'whichever is higher' and so a magic item would essentially get to choose voluntary failure anyways, since it would use the more preferable of the attendent's and its owner's rolls to count as a creature, were access to voluntary failure better for it than success.

This is, of course, not the only consideration.

The text describing what it means for a spell to allow a saving throw in the first place makes it clear that spells with listed saving throws allow their targets to save. This wording indicates that all saving throws made pursuant to that section are entirely optional. You are allowed to make a saving throw when spell says so, but nothing says you have to do so, even if you are an object rather than a creature. Indeed, the 'Voluntarily Giving up a Saving Throw' option is an additional option available to those called to make a save who happen to be creatures.

In some interpretations of what it means to forgo a save, these options are identical. In others, the difference between choosing to take your saving throw but then forgoing it (as is allowed of creatures) is significantly different from choosing not to make a save in the first place. An example of the possible impact of exercising the creature-only option as opposed to the general option can be found here, and an explanation of the different interpretations of the relevant passages which lead to the differing systems here.

Putting it all together, then, the situation is as follows:

An attended item can choose to take (or not take) a saving throw as its attendant when a spell indicates it would make a save. If it chooses to take the saving throw, it may or may not (as a matter of rules interpretation) be able to forgo the save as if it were a creature making use of the 'Voluntarily Giving up a Saving Throw' rules, provided it is attended by a creature. A magic item must save using its own bonuses, if that is best for it, or by saving as its owner, if it chooses to save. If items saving as creatures get access to the 'Voluntarily Giving up a Saving Throw' rules, then Magic Items gain access to those rules just like regular attended objects, except that when choosing to save using their own bonuses they do not have access to that section of rules if they are not a creature.

Thusly, items can choose to forgo their saves, but possibly not quite in as many ways as creatures.

Note that, in any case, it is the item that is potentially permitted to forgo the saving throw, and not the item's owner or attendant, who possesses no special powers related to coercion of the item's consent simply by virtue of ownership or attendance.

"But objects can't make choices or want things!"

Stone Tell

  • \$\begingroup\$ Nothing that I see in stone tell suggests agency on the stone's part. Am I to read that you're saying that the object's possessor/attendant can't choose to forgo the saving throw, but that the DM can (for the object)? \$\endgroup\$
    – Chemus
    Commented Jul 8, 2017 at 21:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Chemus yes. If you don't see anything in stone tell implying agency then probably you don't see anything implying agency in the object deciding whether or not to make it's saving throws, so the preemptively placed responce to objection doesn't apply to you. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 8, 2017 at 21:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ So, in short, placing it in the pocket means it automatically makes a saving throw as the character, which may or may not work. As it is not a creature, it cannot choose to forego the save. However, if you toss or drop it into the pocket by letting go before it hits the pocket, it will auto-fail the saving throw as it is now (technically) unattended. \$\endgroup\$
    – nijineko
    Commented Jul 9, 2017 at 20:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nijineko that particular issue is made more complicated by Shadow Conjuration's statement that "Objects automatically succeed on their Will saves against this spell." So, if you put it in it saves as the character which may or may not work. If you drop or toss it in it definitely makes the save, if it chooses to make one (though I don't think that actually means it falls through the pockets. The interaction between those two spells is complicated) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 9, 2017 at 21:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nijineko, (and dark wanderer, the), the tossing might work, as it's unattended until it's "grasped, touched or worn", according to the def in the SRD. And "unattended objects never make saving throws." \$\endgroup\$
    – Chemus
    Commented Jul 11, 2017 at 2:33

Automatic means no action or choice is required, or even available.

Objects are only ever affected by the real portion of shadow conjuration (PH 276) and shadow evocation (277) spell effects.


Automatic success or failure on saving throws usually happens when a natural 20 or natural 1 is rolled on the d20 roll for that saving throw (136, 177). Once the result is rolled, these automatic outcomes are not avoidable and cannot be changed, barring an ability that says otherwise.

In fact, there are several things that are automatic in , including, but not limited to, automatic hits and misses for attacks (134, 139), also on a natural roll of 20 or 1, automatic failure to train an animal to use a trick if interrupted (75), automatic failure for an interruptible action being attempted while being damaged or distracted if the concentration check fails (70), rangers automatically gaining the track feat (101), several classes automatically being proficient with various armors (89), shields (100) and weapons (97), deafened (307) or blinded (305) creatures automatically failing listen or spot checks, and so on. To the best of my knowledge, 'automatic' itself is not a defined term in (though automatic hit and automatic miss are glossary terms (PH 305)), however, its usage has been quite consistent. Barring special rules, automatic events are largely unavoidable; they just happen.

The normal rule for objects is they do not receive a saving throw unless they are either magic or attended. The rules go on to say that unattended objects are considered to have failed their saving throws. (166) This is significant, since it shows that in order to 'not receive a saving throw', objects are considered to have failed them.

The shadow conjuration and shadow evocation line of spells say that objects automatically succeed on their will saves versus those spells. In this case, for these spells, objects, rather than being considered to have failed their saving throws, simply automatically succeeded. Specific rules override general rules (Rules Compendium 5).

This means that no matter how the 20% (or greater) reality of the shadow- spells is adjudicated to perform for particular shadow-conjured effects, objects, either magical or mundane, are only ever affected by the real portion of those spells and effects.

  • I view this as objects being unable to be fooled by illusion because they're completely unthinking and unable to reason or make any type of judgement, so lies don't work; only objective reality affects them. This view of mine is simply a justification for the rule, rather than written as a rule anywhere.

From a GM's Point of view I have always looked at issues like this from a spell Casters intent with regards a spell, as that impacts a Spell as much as a rule mechanic. So a Spell designer who designs a Shadow Garment would expect it to operate in principle like a 'Garment' I.e. be worn, not fall through wearer, and so in principle if a Shadow Garment has pockets they operate as such by the wearer. So objects would be able to be slipped into pockets, as the spell is linked to the wearer. So if the wearer is being solid and interacting with surroundings then pocket solid.

The issue is that it is a grey area of rules where players can abuse, so playing it this way allows the GM a little flexibility.


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